plasnewydd.jpg

Many earlier documents about Brymbo mention a house, or property, called “Plas Newydd” – “new hall”. From these documents it is clear that the house was part of the Brymbo Hall estate. It is also clear that neither the house nor the placename can now be found.

One thing we do know is that the property pre-dated the steelworks, and had its own land attached to it. It certainly appears on the Land Tax assessments of 1798 amongst the lands then owned by “Jno. Wilkinson Esq“, where a Robert Jones is recorded as the occupier of “Half Plasne.d“, assessed at three shillings and sixpence, with the remaining half occupied by Wilkinson himself.

However, it also appears on township rate books well back in the 18th century: Richard Jones is rated for “Plaise Newydd” in the 1730s, and Evan Edwards a little later on. Lastly, Edward Jones, gent, is described in a deed of 1695 as being “of Plas Newydd” in Brymbo.

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A few years back I wrote down some notes on the Gyfynys, Brymbo, and the family called Powell who had once owned the house and estate. Although you can still find the name on maps, the Gyfynys itself vanished perhaps two centuries ago, so its site needs to be searched for carefully.

If you walk eastwards down Glyon Lane, Brymbo, towards its border with the township of Gwersyllt, you will come to a junction with Cae Penty Road. In the angle between the two lanes is a small field, raised above the road level. This is the Gyfynys. Enclosing it to the south and west, and bordering Glyon Lane, is another much larger field: this is Cae Penty, the “House-End Field” (or perhaps “Field of the Main House”), of which Alfred Palmer wrote in 1903:

this field […] is famed in the neighbourhood for the crop of snowdrops, violets, and other flowers which it yearly bears, presenting the semblance of an old but abandoned garden

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Yesterday I briefly talked about the remaining evidence of the gardens on the Brymbo Estate. There isn’t much, but there is enough of a record through maps and photographs to give some idea of the house’s landscape setting and of what was lost through neglect and opencast mining.

Other evidence may still exist in estate records, some of which survive thanks to their inclusion in papers relating to the estate of Brogyntyn in Shropshire, whose owners had a close legal involvement with Brymbo in the days before John Wilkinson bought it.

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Brymbo Hall in the early 1950s. Crown copyright.

Brymbo Hall in the early 1950s. Crown copyright.

The picture to the right shows Brymbo Hall from the air, taken in the early 1950s. While the level of detail shown isn’t huge, it reveals a few interesting landscape features long since destroyed by opencast mining.

The house is surrounded by what locals, in the 20th century, called Brymbo Park. On earlier documents it was known as Brymbo Demesne, and consists of those parts of the Griffiths‘ old estate not let out to tenant farmers but directly attached to the main house. A further subdivision of this land was the formal, partly terraced garden seen on older Ordnance Survey maps, and glimpsed in a few older photographs. Given the neglect of the house from the 1920s onwards, the garden is otherwise poorly recorded, but it is possible to reconstruct some of its main elements.

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Pentresaeson farmhouse lies on the western slope of a shallow valley, at the bottom of which a tributary stream runs to join the Gwenfro at Gwernygaseg. Like many others in the area, it has not been a working farm for many years, but throughout the late 18th and 19th centuries, at least, was one of the largest in Brymbo, in terms of the land attached to it.

This land once stretched away northward as far as the Glascoed, and uphill westward as far as the Cefn; much of it well above the 800 feet mark, high, cold and best suited to rough pasture. Like other holdings in the west of the township, it would have been an unforgiving environment in which to farm. It was once the property of John Wilkinson, who purchased it in around 1800 when, gripped by an enthusiasm for agricultural improvement, he was in the process of expanding the Brymbo Hall estate. For some of this period a family called Harrison tenanted it; Charles Harrison in 1798, immediately before Wilkinson’s purchase, and John Harrison and his sister in 1829. Later in the 19th century a father and son, both named James Wilkinson, farmed there. In this period the immediate area would have changed substantially: for although there were some coal pits nearby from at least the 1680s, and perhaps earlier, the 19th century saw the arrival of the railway and its small halt, the Taylor Brothers foundry, and the adjacent Pentresaeson colliery, though without removing the location’s essentially rural character.

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This is site about Brymbo, a township once part of Denbighshire, and its history. You can read more about the site in general, start with the most recent posts or with the archives listed below.
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